This humble drink changed our lives – should we be drinking more?

Friday 07 Nov, 2014 

  • Discover why the great British institutions are nothing of the sort 

  • Here’s why we should all be drinking more tea

  • Do you know your flavanols?


There are several great British institutions; the sort of things we are famous for around the world.

The Sunday roast, warm ale, fish and chips and a good old cup of tea feature large in this list.

Chances are you live up to these stereotypes too. I know I do.

But if you look back in history though none of these are really native to the British Isles; they’re actually more about our seafaring past than something that has always been done here.

Potatoes from the Americas, courtesy of Mr Drake, fried fish from Portugal and Spain, and tea from the days of the Raj in India and points east all tell the story of how our tiny island nation travelled the world.

But we have taken each of these to our hearts and made them staples of our lives – perhaps none more so than tea.

It is estimated that we each drink 3˝ cups a day which accounts for about a quarter of all the milk drunk too.

The numbers are staggering when you begin to look into it; each year the UK imports 144,000 tonnes of dried leaves, making around 165 million cups per day and tea commands a world market in excess of $20 billion per year.

But it seems that Britain is beginning to fall out of love with this national drink.

Since 2003 we are consuming less tea than we did, with the rates of imports dropping by a little over 10%.

It is slowly being replaced by juices, flavoured waters and sweet sugary beverages instead.

Now when we get back in from a day at work or a trip to the shops, we are more likely to reach into the fridge for a glass of something cooling and fresh rather than put the kettle on.

Children in particular are now less likely to drink tea than at any time since the Second World War.

That is a real shame as tea is not just a refreshing drink, it is also a source of major health benefits too.

A very British Health Drink

Long before anyone had heard the term iso-tonic, or considered the possibility of blitzing carrots to a pulp, tea was THE health drink.

Whether it was a green tea, a breakfast tea or a good old brew in a mug Britain was boosting its collective health on a daily basis.

Arguably it was also the first slimming product ever sold in the UK, which has been proven in several studies in recent times; for example a 2009 study by the Department of Human Biology, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute at Maastricht University in The Netherlands argues that the catechins (powerful anti-oxidants) in green tea help decrease body weight as well as maintaining body weight after weight loss. 

Furthermore, recent studies suggest that tea helps reduce some forms of cancer, prevents bad breath, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces blood pressure, helps with weight control, kills bacteria and viruses, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and has neuro-protective power.

Often cited as a source of increasing levels of caffeine in our diets, which can lead to problems with sleep, tea is actually much better for you than a can of cola or a cup of coffee, containing less than half the stimulant than in either.

So, you can sit and enjoy a nice cuppa knowing that you are providing yourself a proper health boost and also conserving world resources and supporting the economies of the Far East and Africa where a lot of the tea is grown.

Most of the world’s tea grows in mountain areas 3,000-7,000 feet above sea level and between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Tea-producing countries include the real big players such as China and India, but also lesser nations like Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.

In these nations the big corporations still dominate output but there are also specialist tea companies now who have a deeply ethical approach to supporting the welfare of local workers – as well as producing some of the finest and healthiest tea available.

Choose your tea wisely and you can enjoy your own personal health boost, and a sense of pride that you are supporting local people in the right way.

Flavourful Flavanols

Last Friday I told you about how the big food company Mars was about to claim huge health benefits for a flavanol rich chocolate drink it was about to launch.

If you missed that one catch up on the story here

In the letter I said that you should make sure you get your important flavanols from real chcocolate rather than something that will have been over processed and probably over sweetened.

But, you can also get a good daily dose of these important anti-oxidants from tea.

Natural loose teas are known to be abundant in these compounds, and especially if the leaves used are the very young tips of the plant.

Something that you might like to try though is a bit of rare indulgence – take a mouthful of nice hot tea then immediately after you swallow it crumble a little bitter chocolate into your mouth...

...truly the Yin & Yang of pure flavanol indulgence!

Yours, as always




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